The Pop Sugar Challenge, I quickly discovered, lacked any real goal and was really just a cross between a checklist and a scavenger hunt. The Read Harder challenge appealed to me for the very reason the Pop Sugar Challenge did not: it had a clear goal. Its aim was to broaden your reading horizons.
I finished this challenge on December 29, 2015...and I'm glad I participated. However, I still have thoughts on it--but, again, more on that later. Let's start with the business at hand. What was the challenge and what did I read? The challenge has 24 items and you read a different book to satisfy each one. So, here we go.
2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge
1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
These Are the Moments by Jenny Bravo
2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
Liberty by Garrison Keillor (no review)
3. A collection of short stories
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
4. A book published by an indie press
The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski
5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
Paper Towns by John Green
7. A book that takes place in Asia
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
8. A book by an author from Africa
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (review 1/28/16)
9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
10. A microhistory
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
11. A YA Novel
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
12. A sci-fi novel
The Martian by Andy Weir
13. A romance novel
Sex, Lies, and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson (no review)
14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (no review)
15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story
Ana of California by Andi Teran
16. An audiobook
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
17. A collection of poetry
Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
18. A book that someone else has recommended to you
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
19. A book that was originally published in another language
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (no review)
20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind
Ms, Marvel #1: No Normal by Willow G. Wilson (no review)
21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure
Grimm - The Killing Time by Tim Waggoner
22. A book published before 1850
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (no review)
23. A book published this year
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
24. A self-improvement book
No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar (review 2/23/16)
So, now that I did it...what do I think about it?
Well, first off, I think this is actually a very good challenge. There were a few books that I would never have even considered reading if it weren't for this challenge. For someone who loves to read but feels like they are in a rut, I would heartily recommend this challenge (you can find the 2016 challenge here).
But, honestly, this was actually a pretty easy challenge for me. If anything, it showed me that I already read pretty broadly and that is something I take pride in. My intent in doing this was to see if I needed to expand my horizons and what I learned is that I really don't need to.
As for 2016...I'm sitting this one out.
My reading life, between book clubs and books for review and my overflowing TBR list, is pretty encumbered. Adding a challenge--the Read Harder or any other challenge--would just put more demands on it and, this year, I'm trying to free myself of that. I know many, many readers do challenges and, if they enjoy them, that's great. I'm not here to knock challenges. All I'm saying is that I do not need them.
The 2015 Read Harder Challenge was fun and it was a learning experience...but I'm glad it's over!